Town Council Candidates have their say

BLYTHEWOOD – Every election year, The Voice offers space for the candidates for Blythewood Town Council to present their platforms, backgrounds and generally say why they are running for office. While the field opened with five candidates Sept. 5, Courtney Leavitt, a Cobblestone Park resident, dropped out of the race last week, issuing a prepared statement explaining, “It is with heavy heart that I share with you my decision to withdraw from the town council race. With my current work environment and commitments to external activities, I feel as if I would not be able to give full effort towards Blythewood and the town council seat.”

All four of the remaining candidates have submitted their campaign information for publication. That copy is printed here as submitted and not edited.

Donald Brock

Brock

Hello, my name is Donald Brock, Jr. and I’d like to speak to every voter about why I’ve decided to run for Town Council.  When my family moved to Blythewood in January 2016, I had already made the decision that I wanted to be involved in the community. I have two young children (7 & 5) and felt that Blythewood offered positive influences to their lives that other places in and around Columbia could not.  And it was up to me to make that happen.  I want to be a voice for those who have smaller voices, for those who will feel the impact of decisions as they grow and mature. My children (and others throughout the community) are the future of Blythewood and it’s up to us to lay a solid foundation. I want to be a part of that foundation and that’s why I’m running for Town Council.

The Town of Blythewood is a growing community; a community that has held true to itself for many years.

With that, I want to encourage the town to invest in itself and offer “Blythewood First”, a platform that encourages the community to better itself through collective action and accountability.

As a member of the Planning Commission, we have fought diligently to prevent residential overdevelopment.  We have up zoned multiple parcels throughout the town to prevent “vinyl villages” from popping up.  As a Council member, I want to continue working with our Planning Commission to discourage tract building. Our town takes pride in our open and flowing neighborhoods.  I want to encourage builders to offer larger lot sizes, more open/green space, incorporate desired amenities and instead of just building homes, let’s build lifestyles.

Another one of the challenges our town faces is a lack of recreational outlets. We have a fantastic baseball/softball community, but one of the major issues facing this community is a lack of fields.  Unfortunately, some children are turned away each year and I find this unacceptable. In the past, Richland County Recreation Commission (RC) has been asked to procure additional facilities and those requests have fallen on deaf ears.  I propose we form the Blythewood Recreation Department, a subset of Town Hall that’s charged with the task of procuring and managing our own facilities. Not only recreation facilities, the multi-use trail system that’s being proposed currently would fall under this department. If the RC will not invest in Blythewood, then perhaps it’s time Blythewood divest itself from the RC and frankly, invest in ourselves!

I want to create more community-focused events, utilizing our best asset: Doko Meadows.  More concerts, festivals, etc. will only enhance lives and encourage those living outside Blythewood to come visit.  Our children need more recreational outlets, whether that be indoor or outdoor. We clearly have to invest in the youth of the community.

Vote Brock on November 7th!

Brian Franklin

Franklin

I’m Brian Franklin, a candidate for the Blythewood Town Council,

Education:

Attended Richland School District Two schools here in Blythewood: BHE and Spring Valley, 1973-1986

B.S. Biology, The Citadel, 1990

Master of Health Administration, Chapman University, 1996

Master of Strategic Studies: US Army War College, 2011

Political Experience:

Chairman, Blythewood Planning Commission, 2016-Present

Blythewood Planning Commissioner, 2015-2017

Town Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tempore, Whitakers, NC, 2002-2004

Chairman, Town Zoning Board, Whitakers, NC, 2000-2002

Work Experience:

US Army Officer, 1990-2014

Retired Army Officer/Stay-At-Home Dad, 2014-2017

Currently: Department of the Army Civilian, Shaw AFB, Sumter, SC

Family:

Married to the former Desdemona (Dusty) L. Herman of Toledo, Ohio (retired Army officer).  We have eight children — five girls and three boys.

Candidate Statement:

As a Blythewood native, I have always advocated for our Community. Whether it be our local schools, our community parks or our town government, I have taken active roles in their improvement over the years by serving as a volunteer on the Parent Teacher Organizations, as a baseball coach and scout leader, and most recently as the Chairman of the Blythewood Planning Commission. I would now like to use that volunteer experience to serve as a Town Council Member and help guide our town as we grow into the future.

Blythewood is a vibrant, friendly and growing community situated in a strategic location in South Carolina. Located just a short drive from the SC beaches, Charleston, Charlotte and the mountains, Blythewood is a perfect place to start a business, raise a family or simply retire.  As such, we attract numerous businesses and developers to help us grow. This growth often happens quickly, and this predicament is where I see our three biggest challenges:

  1. Growth is outpacing our infrastructure development.
  2. Rapid growth is saturating our schools.
  3. Our parks and recreation facilities are in need of expansion.

If I am elected to the Blythewood Town Council, I will:

Continue the work I have started as the Chairman of the Town Planning Commission by ensuring smart and controlled growth in accordance with the Master Plan and ensure the transportation infrastructure keeps pace with the massive residential and business growth.

Assist in establishing partnerships to create walking trails, expand our baseball/softball/football facilities, and improve our playground/exercise areas.  We have the potential to capitalize on our recent Dixie Youth Little League (softball/baseball) and Pop Warner Football successes to become a perennial “host site” for these income-generating events.

And lastly, I will continue to be an advocate for our community to attract new businesses into our Town Center while maintaining our small town feel. Growth is inevitable, but we owe it to our current residents to control it so everyone feels comfortable living, working and playing in Blythewood.

Thank you, and I ask for your vote on November 7th in the Blythewood Town Council election.

~Bryan S. Franklin

Larry Griffin

Griffin

Larry D. “Griff” Griffin is just that; a quiet storm and a force to be reckoned with. He is his family’s bulwark of strength, and he humbly serves his community as an advocate for history, mentorship and most of all, he displays compassion. “GRIFF” as he’s passionately called, is a native of Blythewood, SC born to the proud parents of Nettie Griffin Benson and the late Truzell Alfonso Kelly.

“GRIFF” received his education in the Richland School District #2, and he attended the historic Bethel-Hanberry High School until it closed in 1970. He then went to Spring Valley High School in Columbia, SC where he graduated in the top 3rd percentile in his class of over 400 in 1972.

“GRIFF” went on to further his education at Grambling State University, (Grambling LA) and SC State University (Orangeburg SC) where he majored in Business Administration and minored in Economics.

Larry D. “GRIFF” Griffin is a very successful business professional (owner); yet he’s very connected to and passionate about the community.  He has been actively serving the community for over 35 years, and continues to make his mark, especially through-out the town of Blythewood.  Presently he serves on the Town Council.  “Griff serves as President and one of the organizers of the Athletic Alumni Association of Bethel Hanberry (BHAAS). Larry passionately serves on several boards and serves as the Executive Director of Macedonia Baptist Church food bank which is affiliated with Harvest Hope.  Of all the areas that he serves, one of his most fulfilling pleasures is making and impact in the lives of young males as a mentor.

“Griff” is married to his childhood sweetheart Leanora, for over 45 years.  He is a great inspiration to many, But his greatest inspiration besides Leanora, are his 3 children; Stacy, Christopher and Jennipher (son-in-law James) and 2 grandchildren Caleb and Jordan.

Larry D. “Griff” Griffin’s platform and the “Why” in seeking reflections is simple. I am willing to “Be a voice for the people,” in the expansion cycle in order to see growth in the town and community of Blythewood.  There is still some unfinished business.

Michelle Kiedrowski

Kiedrowski

Michelle Kiedrowski, Candidate for Blythewood Town Council, 2017

Education:

Bachelor of Science – Business Management (BSB/M); University of Phoenix, 2007

Masters of Information Systems (MIS); University of Phoenix, 2012

Political Experience:

Blythewood Planning Commissioner, 2015-2017

Work Experience:

Michelle is an Information Technology Professional with a focus on the government sector in healthcare and law enforcement.  She currently works as a Project Manager and Business Systems Analyst.   She is also involved in the internal aspect of the business where she designs and implements change management processes throughout the organization.

Family:

Married to Dustin (Dusty) Kiedrowski of Havre, Montana.  They have no children, but focus much of their attention on nieces and nephews.

Candidate Statement:

Blythewood has proven to be a place worthy of calling ‘home’ and believe it to be an exceptional place to live and grow. I have been serving on the Planning Commission for two years and would like to make a greater impact.   It’s easy for people to think because Blythewood is small it does not require as much attention.  I think because it is small it needs more attention.  Infrastructure has to be defined and considered with every presentation and vote.

As a Planning Commissioner, I recognize three challenges we face every time we review an agenda item, those are:

Controlling growth.  Blythewood’s potential for growth is exponential, but if the infrastructure is not in place for that growth, it can do more harm than good.

Balancing history with the opportunity for new history to be made.  It’s never easy to decide what should be preserved and what should be replaced for the current and future needs of the citizens.

Standing firm with the Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan.  I believe these plans can be flexible, but not to the point the original ideals are lost.

If elected to Town Council, my commitment to the Town of Blythewood is to take one issue at a time, listen to citizen’s perspective, and remember the current Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan is our guide.  I believe each issue brought before any board or government entity deserves its own attention.

Thank you, and I ask for your vote on November 7th in the Blythewood Town Council election.

If you have any additional questions, please contact me at [email protected] or call 803-227-0520.